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Changing gears

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Surviving amputation

It was a great ride until my motor-cycle hit a guardrail at 120km/hr. On impact, I suffered bilateral tibia and fibula compound fractures. I broke my back, hips, pelvis and clavicle and punctured a lung. I woke up in the hospital trying to rip the breathing tubes out of my throat.

I had no idea I had already been through five surgeries including the amputation of 75% of my right leg, needed 28 units of blood or that my family was told I was within minutes of dying when the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society brought me in. I spent seven days on respirators and almost five months in the hospital.

But by the time I left, I was set on walking the fitness stage and becoming a paralympian.

I had a love for the gym and after my first competition only one-and-a-half months before the accident, I was set on getting my pro card. I liked adventure, being outside and running. Though I knew deep down I was a good person, I did struggle with self-worth and was not sure how to be truly happy.

My priorities and goals changed the moment I realized I was lucky to be alive. I set out on a journey to make the best of my situation and sure, I’ve made mistakes and had moments of sorrow along the way, but I’ve always found my way back to my mission. My goals went from being a fitness model to being an amputee who wasn’t going to let the loss of a leg define me. I started to see the beauty in my scars and my metal leg and with that, my attitude changed for the better. I became open and accepting of new people and now I slow down so I can enjoy the moment.

I know that life is short and at any second everything you know can completely change. I took having two legs for granted. Simple things like walking up stairs or pushing open heavy doors are no longer as easy for me. However, I take pride in the fact that I’m still out there doing the things I love and adapting.

Check out the full Pure Strength workout by Michelle Salt by clicking HERE!

I went from 125lbs to 85lbs in the hospital and ended up with a frail and weak body. It’s taken a long time for me to get back to the point where I’m strong and feel healthy again. I had to improvise when it came to planning meals and workouts to accommodate for my lack of appetite and strength. I found that routine, consistency and staying accountable for my health have helped me the most.

Now, my greatest satisfaction comes from being active. I love to dirt bike, camp, BMX, snowboard, cycle and paddleboard. I’m extremely grateful to have an amazing support system that encourages me to keep trying new things. I never want to stop learning and exploring. I believe it’s the greatest ability we have as humans—no matter the situation we find ourselves in.

More Inspiration: Check out this article on retired Canadian Olympian Cassie Hawrysh.

Author: Michelle Salt is a Canadian Paralympic snowboarder and on the board of the Canadian Paralympic Organisation. She contributed this article to Optimyz Magazine as a story of inspiration.

Photo by Dave Laus


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